Christmas Recipes

A Selection of Seasonal Recipes

These recipes are taken from Modern Practical Cookery published in 1930.

Roast Turkey And Cranberry Sauce

Picture of roast turket dinner
  • A turkey from 10lbs
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3ozs dripping

The Veal Stuffing

  • 1 breakfastcupfull of breadcrumbs
  • 3ozs shredded and chopped suet
  • 2ozs bacon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 level teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Grated rind of ½ lemon
  • 1 large egg

The Chestnut Stuffing

  • 60 sweet chestnuts
  • 2 pork sausages
  • 1½ozs butter
  • 1 teacupful breadcrumbs
  • teaspoon mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper
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The Gravy

  • 1oz dripping
  • 1oz flour
  • ¾ pint of hot stock – made by stewing the giblets
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

The Garnish

  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 1lb small sausages

The poulterer will have drawn and trussed the turkey and will have sent the giblets wrapped up in greaseproof paper.
First wash the giblets (neck, gizzard, heart and liver). Keep back the liver and put the other giblets in a saucepan with a pint of cold water and ½ teaspoon of salt, to simmer gently for stock all the time the turkey is cooking. Add half an onion and carrot to the stock when it boils.

To make the veal stuffing, chop the bacon and fry it gently for five minutes. Mix all the other ingredients in a basin. Add the bacon and fat that came from it and bind all together with a beaten egg. Fill the crop with this and keep it in place by pulling over the loose skin of the neck, which can either be skewered or tucked under the ends of the wings.

To make the chestnut stuffing, slit the chestnuts on the flat side and put them on a tin in a hot oven for 15 minutes, till the shells split open. Scrape off the inner skins and boil the chestnuts for 20 minutes in enough stock or water to cover them. Strain them and put them through a mincer. Mix all the chestnut-stuffing ingredients together and put them inside the body of the turkey.

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Season the bird with salt and pepper, spread it all over with dripping, and dredge it lightly with flour. Put more dripping in the tin and place the bird in a hot oven for the first 15 minutes. Baste it by pouring the dripping over it with an iron spoon. Lower the gas and finish cooking in a moderate oven.

To make the bird nice and brown, it must be basted about every 20 minutes. It is not a hot oven that browns it so much as plenty of basting. Time allowed is 15 minutes to the pound. A turkey of from 10 to 12 pounds will be cooked in 2 hours. Put the liver in the tin for the last 15 minutes.

The best way to cook the sausages is to put a string of them in a warm frying pan, prick them to prevent bursting, and fry slowly for about 15 minutes, keeping them turned so that they brown evenly.

To make the gravy and dish up, put the turkey on a hot dish in the oven, after removing all strings and skewers. Pour off nearly all the dripping into a basin, leaving in the baking-tin about one tablespoonful of dripping, any brown particles and the liver. Add to the dripping enough flour to make a soft paste (about 1oz), and fry it to make a nice rich brown, remembering that it will not brown anymore after the stock is added.

Put the liver on a chopping board and mince and chop it as finely as possible. Put it back in the tin with the hot gravy and stir it till it boils. Season to taste and serve the sauce in a tureen.

Garnish the turkey with watercress and hang the fried sausages round it.

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1lb cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ pint water
  • 1 small dessertspoonful cornflour

Wash the cranberries and put them in a saucepan with the water. Boil for about 5 minutes or until soft. Rub them through a sieve, add the sugar, and then reheat them. Mix the cornflour smoothly with a half-gill of cold water, and pour the hot puree on to it. Return it to the pan and stir till it boils.

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An alternative way to make the gravy.

From the giblets, clean them then put them in a saucepan with an onion, a few cloves and peppercorns, a sprig of parsley, and a small blade of mace. Cover them with cold water, add a little salt, then bring the gravy to the boil and simmer it gently for 2 to 3 hours. Strain it and boil it up in the baking tin after browning a little flour in a spoonful of the turkey dripping, kept back after pouring the rest off.

Alternatives to serve with Roast Turkey.

Bread Sauce

  • 1 pint milk
  • 1 small onion
  • 1oz butter or margarine
  • ½ pint breadcrumbs, pressed down
  • 2 or 3 cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • cream, if liked

Put the milk into a saucepan with the onion and cloves and leave it at the side of the fire fro an hour or so, then bring it to the boil and add the breadcrumbs, butter, and seasonings.

Stand the pan aside for a few minutes to allow the crumbs to swell, then remove the flavourings, re-heat the sauce, and serve it in a sauce-boat. A tablespoonful of cream my be added, if liked.

This amount is sufficient for 6 to 8 persons.

Buttered Brown Crumbs

Melt an ounce of butter in a frying pan, add two oz of breadcrumbs, and fry them gently till golden, adding a little more butter if required.

Serve the crumbs on a paper doyley.

Bacon Rolls

Remove the rind from the rashers, cut each in half, crosswise, roll then up and stick them on a skewer. Cook them under the grill or in the oven.

Christmas Pudding

Picture of Christmas Pudding
  • ½lb suet
  • ½lb raisins
  • ¼lb flour
  • ¼lb currents
  • ¼lb peel
  • ¼lb sultanas
  • 1oz almonds
  • rind of ½ a lemon – grated
  • 2 tablespoonfuls Golden Syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ gill milk
  • ¼ of a nutmeg – grated

Prepare the fruits. Chop the suet. Mix the flour and suet together. Add the lemon-rind and nutmeg and prepared fruits. Cut the peel into small pieces, blanch the almonds and cut into pieces. Add these to the other ingredients and mix well.

Whisk up the eggs, add the golden syrup, and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients with the milk and mix well together. Put into a greased basin, cover with greased paper and floured pudding-cloth. Put into a saucepan of boiling water, and steam for eight hours. Turn on to a hot dish and serve.

Christmas Pudding (Made With Figs and Dates)

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  • 1½lb dates – when stoned
  • 1lb figs
  • ½lb mixed peel
  • 1½lb seeded raisins
  • 2lb suet
  • ½lb breadcrumbs
  • ¾lb flour
  • ½lb sugar
  • 2ozs ground almonds
  • 1 large carrot
  • ¼lb shelled walnuts
  • 1 orange – rind and juice
  • 1 lemon – rind and juice
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 1 large saltspoonful ground ginger
  • 8 eggs
  • 1lb black treacle
  • 1½ gills milk
  • ¾ gills rum
  • A little ratafia* flavouring

*Ratafia - sweet liqueur made from wine and brandy flavored with plum or peach or apricot kernels and bitter almonds.

Wash the figs, dry them thoroughly, then remove the stalks and cut the fruit into small pieces, or put the through a mincer. Cut up the peel and separate the raisins. Stone and cut up the dates.

Chop the suet finely and mix well with the flour and breadcrumbs; add also the ginger, grated nutmeg; ground almonds and sugar, and mix well together.

Scrape the carrot, then grate it finely, and add to the dry ingredients with the grated orange and lemon rind, prepared fruit, and the walnuts (chopped up roughly).

When well mixed, stir in the beaten eggs, mixed with the treacle (this may be warmed slightly). Add also the milk. Beat all together, then stir in the rum and ratafina flavouring.

Put into well-buttered basins, cover with buttered papers and floured pudding-cloths, and cook in boiling water for about six hours.

Sufficient to make three large puddings or four medium-sized ones.

NOTE: the puddings may be served plain or stuck with baked almonds.

To prepare the almonds – Blanch them and put them on a baking sheet lined with a sheet of white paper, and bake slowly in the oven until golden brown.

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Christmas Cake

  • 11ozs flour
  • ½ flat teaspoon carbonate of soda
  • ¼ flat teaspoon each of ground mace, ginger, cloves, cinnamon
  • 1 small orange – grated rind and juice
  • 2ozs ground almonds
  • 1oz shelled walnuts
  • 3ozs candied peel
  • 3ozs glace cherries
  • 1lb sultanas
  • 10ozs currants
  • 7ozs butter or margarine
  • 6ozs Barbados sugar
  • ¼lb golden syrup
  • 4 eggs

Wash, pick over and dry the currants and sultanas. Then cut up the cherries and peel, and chop the walnuts. Sieve the flour with the soda and spices, and mix in the ground almonds. Whisk the eggs, then warm the golden syrup and mix it with the eggs.

Cream the fat and sugar, add the finely grated orange rind, and gradually stir in the flour and prepared fruit and nuts, alternately with the eggs and syrup. Lastly add the orange juice.

Mix and beat the ingredients well. Turn the mixture into a greased cake-tin lined with two or three thicknesses of greased paper, and put it in a moderate oven to bake. It will take from 2½ to 3 hours.

Turn the cake out carefully and when thoroughly cold wrap it in greaseproof paper, and store it in an airtight tin until it is going to be iced.

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Almond Paste

  • 1lb ground almonds
  • 1½lb icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 or 5 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoonful of almond ratafia flavouring essence
  • ½ teaspoonful vanilla flavouring essence
  • ¼ teaspoonful pineapple flavouring essence
  • ¼ teaspoonful orange flavouring essence
  • Melted jelly or jam

Rub the icing sugar through a sieve and mix with the ground almonds. Beat up the yolk of egg and add it to the flavourings. Mix all ingredients together with sufficient whites (slightly beaten) to make a stiff paste. If all these essences are not to hand, vanilla may be used alone.

To cover the cake, work the icing into a smooth lump and divide it into two portions. Roll out one to a long strip the same depth as the cake and long enough to go all the way round.

Brush the sides of the cake with melted jelly or jam, and mould the paste to it, making it stick securely.

Stand the cake on an upturned dish and cover the top in the same way, rolling the paste into a round. If the cake has risen in the center, it must either be cut level or else an edge of paste must be put on to level it before it is covered. (If it is necessary to scrape the cake, remember to brush off the loose crumbs.)

Leave the cake until the next day, so that the paste may dry, then ice it with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

  • 2lb Icing sugar
  • 4 or 5 egg whites
  • 1½ tablespoonfuls lemon juice

Rub the icing sugar through a sieve and whisk the egg whites to a stiff froth. Stir the lemon juice into the sugar and add sufficient whites to mix the icing to a thick consistency that will not run. Beat well for ten minutes, then use as required.

If it has to stand by, keep a very damp cloth over it, otherwise it will harden.

To ice the cake, spread a layer of icing over the top and round the sides. then smooth it over with a knife dipped into hot water. A palette knife is the best to use as it has a large flexible blade rounded at the top.

Put the cake on a cake-board, and lift on to an upturned soup plate or a revolving stand. Beat up the remaining icing and use for piping, planning a simple design before beginning. Decorate with any seasonable decorations to give the cake the final touch.

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Christmas Log Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 4ozs flour – lightweight
  • 4ozs castor sugar
  • ½ teaspoonful baking powder
  • 1 tablespoonful cold water
  • Apricot jam – warmed


  • 3 blanched almonds
  • 3 strips of candied peel or angelica

Chocolate Butter Icing

  • ½lb icing sugar
  • ¼lb butter
  • 4ozs cake chocolate
  • 2 tablespoonfuls milk

Line a large swiss roll tin with greased paper, making it fit exactly into the corners. Sift the flour and baking powder on to the paper. Light the gas in the oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together till they are thick, white and creamy, and full of bubbles.

Make sure that the oven is hot before adding the flour.

Stir in the flour lightly but quickly, add the water and pour into the lined tin. Spread it evenly over the tin and put it at once in the top under the browning shelf.

Bake for 7 minutes ad when it feels spongy, as it will if the oven is right, turn it out on to a sugared paper or cloth, spread on the jam and rollup.

The Icing

The best way to melt the chocolate is to break the chocolate in 3-4 pieces and put it in a saucer with the milk. Stand it in a warm place at the side of a stove till the chocolate is soft, then turn it over. This way is simpler and easier than grating the chocolate and melting it in a saucepan.

Rub the icing sugar through a hair sieve. Cream the butter till soft, and add it to the chocolate and sugar. Mix well. Half fill an icing pump with the icing, and screw on a large rose pattern tube. Cut a slanting piece off the end of the cake and make circles of icing to represent the rings of wood in a log. Ice the rest of the cake by forcing on straight lines, close together till it is covered. Decorate with almonds and strips of peel or angelica to imitate mistletoe.

Snow Christmas Cake

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  • 7ozs flour
  • ¼ level teaspoon carbonate of soda
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ level teaspoon mixed spice
  • 5ozs butter or margarine
  • 5ozs sugar
  • ½lb currants
  • ¼lb sultanas
  • 2ozs candied peel
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 1oz shelled walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls milk or sherry

Wash, pick over the currants and sultanas and dry the fruit. Chop the walnuts and cut up the peel. Whisk the eggs. Warm the treacle and add it to the eggs and whisk together.

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, then gradually stir in the flour, sifted with the soda and spices. Add also the prepared fruit and the eggs, the treacle, and a little milk or cooking sherry.

Beat the mixture well, then turn it into a buttered and lined cake-tin barely six inches square.

Bake the cake in a very moderate oven. It will take about two hours, but test it with a skewer before taking it up. When cold cover the cake with a layer of almond paste and royal icing.

Almond Paste

  • ¾lb ground almonds
  • 1¼lb icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • flavouring
  • Red currant jelly

Sift the icing sugar and mix it with the ground almonds. Flavour them with an essence and mix then to a stiff paste with the beaten eggs. If you find it is not quite moist enough, add a spoonful of water or a little more egg.

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To Cover the Cake

Take about two-thirds of the almond paste and work it until it is smooth on a board dredged in icing sugar. Then form it into a roll that will reach round the four sides of the cake. Next roll it out to the same depth as the sides of the cake.

Brush the cake with melted red currant jelly or other jelly preserve. Stand the cake on the paste and wrap the latter round it, pressing it on securely and keeping it good and square.

Cover the top with the remaining piece of paste, rolled to a square to fit it. Mould it on firmly and make it level. Leave the cake till next day.

Royal Icing

  • 1¼lb icing sugar
  • 1 small tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 or 3 egg whites, as required
  • Tiny bonbons
  • bells and mistletoe – for decoration

Rub the icing sugar through a hair sieve. Add the strained lemon juice and stiffly whisked whites of eggs to it, and beat them until smooth. Then spread the icing roughly over the cake.

Lift the cake onto a cake-board and spread a little icing also on the board – round the base of the cake.

Leave to harden, and then decorate the cake. Use a dab of icing to make the decorations adhere.

Meringue Mince Pies

  • Flaky pastry or Shortcrust
  • Mincemeat


  • 1 egg white
  • 2ozs caster sugar

Roll out pastry and line patty tins. Put a teaspoon of mincemeat in the center of each. Bake at 450°F if using flaky pastry, or 425°F if using Shortcrust, for about 15 minutes. Cool. Make meringue by whisking egg white very stiffly, fold in sugar and put a little meringue on the top of each mince tart. Place in oven at 200F for about 15 minutes, decorate with cherry and angelica when the meringue is set.

Brandy Butter

  • 2ozs fresh butter
  • 1 dessertspoon ground almonds
  • 1oz caster sugar
  • 1 dessertspoon sherry
  • 1 teaspoon brandy

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in ground almonds. Keep the sauce cool until required and just before serving add the sherry and brandy a little at a time.

Fruit Salad

  • ½ pint water
  • 4ozs sugar
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh fruits

Make syrup by dissolving sugar with water, add a strip of lemon rind and bring to the boil. Boil gently for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid and make syrupy. Prepare fruits according to type and availability. Make the selection as colourful as possible; a small tin of cherries is useful for this purpose. Be sure to stone the cherries before adding. Put mixed fruits into a bowl making the top surface as decorative as possible. Add lemon juice to the hot syrup and strain this over the top of the fruits. Allow to cool before serving.